Breaking the Wall

July 18, 2019

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Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

Best marathon: 2:23:57 (2007, St. George). Won the Top of Utah Marathon twice (2003,2004). Won the USATF LDR circuit in Utah in 2006.

Draper Days 5 K 15:37 (2004)

Did not know this until June 2012, but it turned out that I've been running with spina bifida occulta in L-4 vertebra my entire life, which explains the odd looking form, struggles with the top end speed, and the poor running economy (cannot break 16:00 in 5 K without pushing the VO2 max past 75).  


Short-Term Running Goals:

Qualify for the US Olympic Trials. With the standard of 2:19 on courses with the elevation drop not exceeding 450 feet this is impossible unless I find an uncanny way to compensate for the L-4 defect with my muscles. But I believe in miracles.

Long-Term Running Goals:

2:08 in the marathon. Become a world-class marathoner. This is impossible unless I find a way to fill the hole in L-4 and make it act healthy either by growing the bone or by inserting something artificial that is as good as the bone without breaking anything important around it. Science does not know how to do that yet, so it will take a miracle. But I believe in miracles.


I was born in 1973. Grew up in Moscow, Russia. Started running in 1984 and so far have never missed more than 3 consecutive days. Joined the LDS Church in 1992, and came to Provo, Utah in 1993 to attend BYU. Served an LDS mission from 1994-96 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Got married soon after I got back. My wife Sarah and I are parents of eleven children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary,  Bella.  and Leigha. We home school our children.

I am a software engineer/computer programmer/hacker whatever you want to call it, and I am currently working for RedX. Aside from the Fast Running Blog, I have another project to create a device that is a good friend for a fast runner. I called it Fast Running Friend.

Favorite Quote:

...if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie


Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 110.88 Year: 2082.97
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 914.70
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Decided to go longer to see if the foot would fuss. Ran 13.2 in 1:28:33. Did a couple of tempo pickups. First, about 1.4 into the run did 2.5 (half of the Fast Running Blog 5 Miler course) in 14:46. The trail was mostly covered with snow with some dry patches. However, the snow had very good traction. But it was still snow. On the dry patches I was running about 10-15 seconds per mile faster than on snow with the same effort.

Jogged a little over two miles, and then ran the same stretch again backwards in 14:54. Then jogged until I had 1.5 left and ran the last 1.5 in 8:57. That stretch was mostly dry, but it did have issues. Had to slow down a lot under the bridges because of ice. Also had to jump over a pile of snow.

Was generally pleased with the run except for tensing up in the last quarter and running it in 1:32 while thinking it was going to be 1:28.

Shortly after, 2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:07. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:12. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:00. Sarah ran 0.25 with Jacob. 

Have been studying anatomy of the thigh lately. I do this on and off in an attempt to figure out the cause of my form problems. I believe the best way to solve such problems is to know as much about how the body works as you can. A specialist may know a lot, but he is greatly handicapped. His brain is not connected to your muscles, but yours is.

So I've been messing around feeling different muscles that felt like a problem while looking at GetBodySmart.Com. It is a great site, has good pictures, interactive mode that allows you to see the muscle in different contexts, and if you are confused about terms like flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction, you can click on a guy and he will do the motion described by the term in question.

I pressed on a groin muscle in the crotch area on the right that has felt funny for the last 23 years. In the past I have never been able to figure out what it was. But with the help of a better chart I had a decent idea - pectineus! So I did a search for "tight pectineus", and found a reference to Myofascial Release Manual which had some very useful info on page 261.

"Pectineus is easily injured by overstretching, and the most common injury happens when the foot is planted and the body is rotated." Ah-ha! That is exactly what happens when you go through a sharp curve at a fast speed. Prior to developing this funny sensation I ran through a sharp curve for a year at least four times a week at speeds that could be around 5:50 per mile in a 6-8 K tempo run, or 4:20 per mile in a 10x200 workout, or something in between. In any case, large volume, high speed, sharp curve (180 degree turn in 25 meters for 25% of the running distance). All of that at the age of 13.

"The gain deviation due to chronic Pectineus strain is very subtle and is hard to differentiate from a normal gait variation, particularly when the injury is bilateral."  In my case, it is unilateral, but there is a subtle gait deviation. Jeff calls it "funny form". Paul calls it "you can tell it is Sasha from half a mile". So for an elite marathoner this gait deviation is perhaps not so subtle. But put me in the company of properly trained 2:45-2:50 guys, and my gait fits right in.

"With weight-bearing and during ambulation (fancy word for walking) the tight Pectineus holds the femur in slight adduction, and causes subtle thigh external rotation...The compensating toe-out gait stresses the knee joint and causes the knee pain..."  I do have a toe-out on the right, and I have had problems with knee pain. They have been the worst when running around the track a lot, and they have always been relieved by a month or two of not running on the track.

So my accusing finger is pointing at pectineus right now. Some more info on it. The "funny" feeling there most resembles being pierced with a knife. It is not very acute, but the nature of the feeling is knife-like. A stretch that would abduct the hip makes that feeling sharper. Hip abduction range with the knee extended is about the same on the left and on the right, but with the knee flexed, the right hip abduction range is smaller than the left. 

It's been like this for 23 years. Can it be fixed? 


Water Clogs Miles: 2.50Airwalk Clogs Miles: 13.20
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
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